398 HISTORY OF PERSIA CHAP.
and the Afghans would have been invited to join in the
looting of India. Had the scheme ever taken practical
shape it must have ended in disaster, owing not only
to lack of supplies and sickness, but to attacks by local
tribes and to the lengthl of the line of communications
from France and from the Volga to India.
It may be thought that our statesmen in India should
have realized these facts. It must, however, be re-
membered that preparations were actually made by
Russia and that the scheme was upset only by the
assassination of the Tsar, Moreover, the genius of
Napoleon was so dazzling that no project seemed beyond
his power of achievement, and consequently the sense
of proportion was apt to be lost. Finally, the position
of the British in India was none too strong, and the
appearance of a Franco-Russian army in Persia would
undoubtedly have reacted most unfavourably on the
Malcolms First Mission, 1800. — The mission of
Captain Malcolm was decided upon before the news of
the success of Mehdi Ali Khan had reached Calcutta.
His instructions were to induce the Shah of Persia to
bring pressure on Zaman Shah; to counteract any
possible designs of the French ; and to restore the
prosperity of British and British Indian trade with Persia.
The young Scotch officer, who held only a junior
rank and might well have been looked down upon by
Persians of high rank, was completely successful in his
difficult task. He carefully studied the Persians, who
were impressed by his strong personality ; he won favour
by a generous and even lavish distribution of gifts ; and
on arriving at Teheran he confirmed by his remarkable
capacity the good report which had preceded him.
Under these favourable conditions a political and com-
mercial treaty was speedily negotiated between Malcolm
and Haji Ibrahim, the Vizier. The Shah agreed to make
no peace with the Amir of Afghanistan unless the latter
renounced his designs on the British possessions in India.
1 From Astrabad to Herat is about six hundred and fifty miles, and from Herat to
Kabul is another five hundred.